Kolko sexually abused an boy beginning in 2008 and continuing into 2009. He wanted to withdraw his guilty plea because, he claimed, Lakewood haredi rabbis and haredi community activists had coerced him to plead guilty to save the community further embarrassment and scrutiny. But testimony today showed that Kolko pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial after finding out more victims had come forward and his attorney told him that he was within minutes of being convicted.
Originally published at 8:37 pm CDT 10-17-2013. Last update at 11:15 pm CDT 10-17-2013.
ABC News reports:
…The judge sentenced Kolko to 12 years and nine months in prison after a hearing that lasted hours and included testimony from the victim, now 16.
When he pleaded guilty, Kolko admitted performing oral sex on the boy and attempting to have anal intercourse with him.
In court, the boy addressed Kolko directly: "How can you ignore the tears and open wounds when you knew how much you hurt me?"
Kolko declined to speak.…
Kolko is a nephew of the notorious haredi child molester Rabbi Yehuda Kolko.
The APP reported what clearly was a very significant piece of testimony today from Yosef Kolko's former attorney Michael Bachner, who testified that Kolko was not being pressured or coerced to plead guilty.
“He was never being threatened,” Bachner said of Kolko. “I didn’t feel he was being coerced. ...He never indicated to me he was being pressured.”
The decision to plead guilty came after revelations that two more victims had come forward, Bachner said.
Bachner described Kolko’s reaction to the news: “His face turned white, his jaw dropped.”
Kolko's new defense attorney reportedly tried and failed to get an adjournment, claiming that he did not have enough time before the hearing to properly prepare his witnesses. But the prosecutor told the court that the victim and his family had taken a bus for 12 hours, traveling from Michigan – where they now live after being harassed and threatened by haredim in Lakewood – at their own expense to be in court for the hearing.
Moshe Siegfried, a seventh-grade teacher at Yeshiva Bais Hatora School in Lakewood, testified for Kolko.
“There was an offer of $100,000 and a job when he got out of jail if he would plead guilty,” he reportedly testified without specifying who made the offer or who was paying for it.
But, Siegfried reportely said, Kolko insisted he was innocent and refused the offer.
Moshe Rothberg, a therapist from Lakewood, and four other men showed up at Kolko's home at 1:30 am of the day Kolko pleaded guilty.
“I gave him a pretty good description of what prison would be like. I sort of described to him what it would be like to get attacked by much bigger men, tougher men, scarier men..and why he should probably play ball. Well, he maintained his innocence. [But eventually] his defense mechanism was wearing down. He was more receptive to the cost-benefit analysis we were presenting,” Rothberg reportedly testified.
Each of Kolko's witnesses said there were no threats made. Instead, they each testified that they argued that accepting a plea deal would be what was best for Kolko because his trial was going badly.
Only Kolko's brother Shabsi testified to any coercion.
He testified that his brother Yosef handed him a note immediately before pleading guilty. It allegedly read, “All that I plead to is under duress and pressure, and is only being done to save my life.”
[Hat Tip: Seymour.]